GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz is currently facing a number of criminal investigations for sex trafficking of minors, campaign finance issues, January 6th insurrection involvement, and brokering pardons for people like Roger Stone. But now we learn on top of all that, he wanted Trump to preemptively pardon him specifically on the sex trafficking stuff before he left office.
Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) told a former White House aide that he was seeking a preemptive pardon from President Donald Trump regarding an investigation in which he is a target, according to testimony given to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Johnny McEntee, according to people familiar with his testimony, told investigators that Gaetz told him during a brief meeting “that they are launching an investigation into him or that there’s an investigation into him,” without specifying who was investigating Gaetz.
McEntee added that Gaetz told him “he did not do anything wrong but they are trying to make his life hell, and you know, if the president could give him a pardon, that would be great.” Gaetz told McEntee that he had asked White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for a pardon.
Asked by investigators if Gaetz’s request for a pardon was in the context of the Justice Department investigation into whether Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws, McEntee replied, “I think that was the context, yes,” according to people familiar with the testimony who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
The testimony is the first indication that Gaetz was specifically seeking a pardon for his own exposure related to the Justice Department inquiry into whether he violated sex trafficking laws. His public posture in the final months of the Trump administration was much less specific, repeatedly calling for broad preemptive pardons to fend off possible Democratic investigations.
McEntee testified that Gaetz met him briefly one evening and discussed the issue of a pardon but McEntee could not recall whether their conversation happened before or after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, according to people familiar with the testimony.
The Justice Department investigation into whether Gaetz paid for sex, paid for women to travel across state lines to have sex, and had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old, was opened in the final months of the Trump administration with approval from Attorney General William P. Barr. The probe stemmed from a federal investigation of Gaetz’s friend who is now a convicted sex trafficker. Gaetz has denied paying for sex or having sex with a minor as an adult.